PARIS (Reuters) - Nearly six decades after France's prehistoric Lascaux caves were made off-limits, visitors will be once again be able to tour the site - only this time in virtual reality.
The cave network, discovered in 1940 by a boy whose dog fell down a hole, contains paintings of animals, human figures and abstract signs that date back as far as 17,000 years.
"We have two sections that have not been seen (by the public) before," said Muriel Mauriac, conservation manager at the Lascaux caves. "No one could access them because you needed to find your way through very narrow passages."
From July 8th, groups of six people wearing virtual reality headsets will be able to take a 45-minute tour through the 235 metre-long cave network, dubbed the Sistine Chapel of the prehistoric era.
The cave, located near the village of Montignac in France's Dordogne region, was closed to the public in 1963 after the carbon dioxide, heat and humidity of nearly 2,000 visitors a day began damaging the paintings.
In the most famous section, the Hall of the Bulls, horses, stags and a bear are depicted.
(Reporting by Lea Guedj; Editing by Richard Lough and Andrew Heavens)